Keith Lee is embarking on amplifying Black-owned restaurants beyond his social media.
The popular TikTok food critic has partnered with Pepsi Dig In to help discover top-notch dining establishments across the U.S. for its Restaurant Royalty program, according to a press release shared with AfroTech.
For its second year, the platform and Lee aim for consumers to nominate their favorite Black-owned restaurants.
As previously reported by AfroTech, Lee has become known for helping transform the lives of Black entrepreneurs through his reviews on TikTok, where he has built a following of nearly 13 million, as of this writing. Through the new partnership, Lee hopes to continue being a vessel that helps Black-owned restaurants gain more exposure, which leads to more revenue.
“A lot of times, especially in the neighborhoods that we live in, [Black-owned restaurants are] right down the street. We just don’t know about them,” Lee said to AfroTech in an interview. “It’s a lot of hole-in-the-wall spots and a lot of local mom-and-pop shops that it’s an ‘if you know, you know’ kind of thing.”
He continued, “I feel like with the Pepsi Dig In, the Restaurant Royalty program, and just with the presence that we have on TikTok, I feel like we’re just blessed enough to be in a position where we can be the platform, we can be the media, we can be the huge engine that allows people to see these restaurants. And as always, I’m just thankful to be a part of it. And I think anybody that has the ability to be a part of it, I think that’s just a blessing within itself.”
One grand prize winner will get to have their signature cuisine featured at MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas, the press release details. In addition, one first prize winner is set to receive tickets for a trip for two to New York City for an exclusive chance to go to Platform by the James Beard Foundation — a new culinary experience that features Black chefs from across the country in partnership with Pepsi Dig In.
Ten Restaurant Royals will not only receive additional visibility on Pepsi Dig In and EatOkra’s social channels, but will also have the chance to be enrolled in Black Restaurants Deliver, which is “an eight-week program that “upskills restaurateurs and their offerings to increase sales and revenue long term.” What’s more, five Restaurant Royals will also have the chance to receive $10,000 in digital media buys for their businesses.
As someone who constantly shares guidance for restaurants to be on top of effectively marketing themselves, Lee is excited about the visibility that selected restaurants will gain from help with their online ordering capabilities and search presence.
“I think it’ll be a really impactful thing, not only for the restaurants but for the people who nominate them because it allows other people to see your favorite Black-owned restaurant,” he expressed. “And I know as a foodie, that’s super important to me. I love when I can show other people foods that I love and see the love that they have for it.”
He added, “Just to be able to be on a scale where people see the hard work that’s put in because a lot of times these restaurants have great food and great customer service but they just don’t have the eyes on them. And I think it’s just gonna be so dope to allow these restaurants to have the platform that they deserve.”
Ten $1,000 gift cards will also be awarded to fans who make submissions in the Restaurant Royalty program. The gift cards can go toward dining at their recommended restaurant and additional foodie experiences in New York City and Las Vegas with Pepsi Dig In and its partners.
The deadline for submissions is July 1.
To learn more about how to nominate your favorite local Black-owned restaurants, click here.